Back to Stories & Articles

Hesed, What We Owe to Others

The present political atmosphere is one of unprecedented magnitude.  As polarizing as our opinions can be, we must remember that we are all human and deserve respect.  As I reflect upon entering college next year, I realize that not everyone will have the same opinions as I do.  I have grown up in a bubble that is BJ, a safe space for me to share my views.  As thankful as I am for this nurturing community that has helped me mature into an empowered young woman, I am also aware that the rest of the world is not like this.  BJ has allowed me to speak my mind and lead with my passion, but when I go forth with nothing but passion, I sometimes forget the magnitude of my words.

With the prevalence of social media nowadays, we often think that posting our beliefs is the best way to deal with the injustice we see, but posts quickly escalate.  Our passion takes the wheel as Facebook and Instagram posts turn hateful.  When did our country become one where it is normal to share our opinions freely, but the second someone disagrees with us they are renowned as evil?  Yes, this election is incredibly important, but so is the Jewish value of hesed, or kindness.  Fueled by our morals, we often forget who we are talking to, and the significance of our actions.

As I listened to the debate between the men who are vying to be our president, I was perturbed by the sheer number of insults fueled by these role models we should be looking up to.  As a sensitive individual, I know the damage that insults can cause.  As I grow and come into my own, I realize that the skills I was taught as a young child are actually necessary to teach some adults today.  Sticks and stones may break our bones but words can hurt us just as much if not more, inflicting a deeper, more profound pain in your soul.

My purpose in writing this today is to remind you of the power our words have on others.  I know election day is scary and brings out a plethora of emotions, but I urge you to think before you post.  Think of the effect our words may have on one another.  We are all human beings and deserve to be treated with kindness, despite our political beliefs.  How can we teach young children to be kind to others if we don’t give our counterparts the same level of respect?  I know we all have different beliefs, that is apparent, but the longer you talk to someone, the more we realize we are all alike.  No matter who we are in conversation with, I believe that as we continue to dig deep, we will uncover shared ground.  The outcome of this election will be monumental, but so will the ways in which we treat others as a result.  Instead of acting out of fear and frustration, let’s all take a deep breath.  I challenge you to have a conversation with someone who has different beliefs than you.  Don’t talk about what divides you, talk about what unites you, what the most important aspects are in your life.  As you converse, notice the shared ground you uncover.  Remember to be kind, remain calm, and breathe.  Let this be a cathartic moment for us, and remember that it’s going to be ok.  If I can do it as a hormonal teenager filling out college applications, so can you!

By Julia Rothman, BJ Teen Executive Board President